PRICE: Punchy but doesn’t blow the budget
If romance for you is all about being up close to nature, Ulagalla, in the heart of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, will quickly have your heart missing a beat as you encounter monkeys, peacocks and lumbering elephants while wandering hand-in-hand through glorious acres.
It’s worth the long car ride, seemingly to the middle of nowhere, just to see the villages and rural communities that have been largely untouched by the modern world.
And when you eventually arrive, the welcome ceremony will be a talking point for days!
The concept is brilliant in its simplicity: each of the ecologically constructed chalets, or villas, here, individually set out across 58 paradisiacal acres, is designed to be a mini-palace. But forget dripping chandeliers and gold taps. Instead, think space, privacy and huge glass walls to enjoy the abundant nature.
The villas are large and start at a size of 850 square feet, each with separate bedroom with four-poster bed and a living area. And what’s more, each chalet comes with its own plunge pool and his-and-hers bikes for gently cycling to breakfast and the pool area.
The main building is a 150-year-old wallawwa (or manor house), the ancestral home of local nobility. Today it has been opened up, furnished with antique cane chaises and planters chairs and liberally scattered with Sri Lankan cotton cushions. The reception, bar and restaurant are all conveniently placed here overlooking the pool and the paddy fields beyond.
Ulagalla is a truly exceptional property that delivers at every turn and will even make you feel virtuous for choosing it as your luxury crash pad, due to its determined efforts on sustainability, with more than half of the power for the hotel provided by its own solar farm. And perhaps the best part, is the early morning nature walks with the resident ornithologists. This is a bird watchers paradise, with over 99 different species living amongst the lakes, wetlands, grasslands and forests.
Ulagalla has been rightly lauded as one of the finest boutique hotels in Sri Lanka. Their website boasts: ‘The lush environment, stunning landscaping, as well as the exquisite attention to the comfort of guests makes for an unforgettably luxurious experience amidst a green oasis.’ We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
OMG get up at 6am? Yes, if you want to sample the private early morning bird walks. And it’s so worth the effort. The mist rising over the various tanks (pools) that surround the hotel is a scene made for Instagram. Make sure you book with reception at least a day before.
On your doorstep
The hotel has its own stables. These are some seriously pampered horses who are only too willing to provide a different perspective as you canter around the local villages.